US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has rejected calls by supporters of her rival, Barack Obama, to abandon her campaign for the Democratic nomination. ( BBC )
Senator Patrick Leahy, an influential Democrat and Obama supporter, had said that by remaining in the race she was helping the Republican party.
Mrs Clinton told supporters she had no intention of abandoning the race.
She is trailing Mr Obama in the number of delegates needed to obtain the nomination.
But the latest opinion polls show her leading Mr Obama by more than ten points in the next major primary in Pennsylvania on 22 April.
She got a vote of support from her daughter, Chelsea, who remarked that her mother would make a better president than her father, Bill Clinton, had been.
"Yes, I do think she'll be a better president," said Chelsea, without explaining her reasoning.
For his part, Mr Clinton said those calling for his wife to pull out of the race should "just relax".
"Everywhere I go, all these working people say, 'Don't you dare let her drop out - don't listen to those people in Washington'."
Senator Leahy, who chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement on Friday that Mrs Clinton "has every right, but not a very good reason, to remain a candidate for as long as she wants to".
"As far as the delegate count and the interests of a Democratic victory in November go, there is not a very good reason for drawing this out," he said, arguing that she had scant chance of winning the nomination.
Mr Obama currently leads by 1623 delegates to the party convention in August to Mrs Clinton's 1499.
To secure the nomination, the winner must secure 2024 delegates - which correspondents say neither candidate will be able to do on the basis of delegates won in the remaining primary elections alone.
If Mrs Clinton manages to win a larger share of the popular vote overall, it is thought that she may secure the backing of the so-called super-delegates who could tip the balance.
"There are some folks saying: 'Well, we ought to stop these elections'," she told a cheering crowd at a high school in Indianapolis, Indiana.
"I didn't think we believed that in America. I thought we of all people knew how important it was to give everyone a chance to have their voices heard."
Mr Obama distanced himself from Mr Leahy's comments.
"My attitude is that Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants. Her name's on the ballot and she is a fierce and formidable competitor," he said.
"I think that she should be able to compete, and her supporters should be able to support her, for as long as they are willing or able."
Analysts say that a bitter, drawn-out fight between the two contenders, going right up to the Democratic convention in August, could damage the eventual nominee's chances of beating their Republican rival, John McCain.